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‘Ndigbo have always played inclusive politics’

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Rather than give in to spurious allegations, unfavourable policies and sundry underhand tactics aimed at scheming them out of contention for the Presidency in 2023, some Igbo leaders insist they won’t be distracted from working towards the realisation of their ultimate dream.

According to them, no group in the country has played inclusive politics, or made the type of sacrifices that they have for the corporate existence of the country, despite always being stabbed in the back severally and schemed out when the chips are down.

The leaders, who spoke to The Guardian in separate interviews, in reaction to claims by an All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain, Ismaila Isa Funtua that Ndigbo do not play inclusive politics, called on Igbo political elite to focus on the ball rather than be dissuaded from accomplishing their goal.

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According to the National Chairman of the United Progressives Party (UPP), Chekwas Okorie, Ndigbo should not just expect that it (the Presidency) should come to us as matter of right; we have to contest for it and that contest means that we have to lobby other people outside the Igbo land … There are so many groups in Nigeria that are sympathetic to the Igbo quest, and for the first time since the return of democracy in 1999, we have seen many prominent non-Igbo political office holders throwing their weight behind the South East on the basis of equity and fair play, and not on the basis of entitlement, or on the basis of pity. So it is for the zone to take advantage of a very bright prospect that is facing them and work towards it.

On Funtua’s claim that “Igbo should belong,” Okorie said: “There are prominent Igbo people in both the APC and the PDP, but in spite of their prominence, if they are not controlling the party leadership, they may not get the nomination to contest. So it is not a question of belonging, but a question of what the party policy is, with regard to that high office.”

First Republic Minister of Aviation, Chief Mbazulike Amaechi, who is of the view that Nigeria and Nigerian politicians have been very unfair and very unkind to Ndigbo, said the role the Igbo played in the country’s independence cannot be understated. But despite that, “various governments have treated Ndigbo not as full partners in the federation, but as second-class citizens.

As a matter of fact, right now, the present government is treating Ndigbo as a conquered race; as a race that is irrelevant. After the civil war, Ndigbo have continued in their characteristic way of not minding what is around them, but trying to accept challenges of life. They have succeeded and will be succeeding, but the actions of the present government against Ndigbo are very painful.”

He continued: “Ndigbo can become anything in 2023 if they work for it; if they strategise for it. They have to plan for it and do less talking and more action. They have to rebuild old bridges that have been broken down by this hatred of the ruling class. They have to build more bridges in order to make the presidency if they want. It is not going to be an easy task because nobody hands you over presidency on a platter of gold. Nobody will come out in 2023 and say Ndigbo, it is now your turn to bring a president; it is not true. If they want to be president, they have to work for it.”


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APCChekwas OkorieNdigbo
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